Trevor Carlin has tipped his former driver Yuki Tsunoda for a bright future in Formula 1, even making a Max Verstappen comparison.
Tsunoda made his debut in the Formula 2 series in 2020 with the Carlin team, and the Red Bull junior proved to be arguably the surprise package of the season, taking three race wins on his way to P3 in the Drivers’ Championship.
Tsunoda ended the season on 200 points, just one behind Ferrari junior Callum Ilott who completed his second full F2 season in 2020.
Those performances for Tsunoda were enough to convince Red Bull to place him in an AlphaTauri seat for 2021 alongside Pierre Gasly, and Carlin believes the Japanese racer could have a similar impact to that of McLaren’s Lando Norris in Formula 1.
He even sees shades of Verstappen in Tsunoda.
“Time will tell where he ends up in the pecking order, but I think he has a very bright future ahead of him,” Carlin told Motorsport.com.
“As long as he’s not overwhelmed by the F1 environment, I see no reason why he shouldn’t be able to do the same as Lando Norris. And maybe he has something of Max Verstappen in him.
“He learns and understands the car very quickly and he has natural talent, so it’s important to adapt that to each championship and move on with it. If he picks up F1 as fast as F2, he’ll be right on Pierre as soon as they get back to Europe.”
Norris finished P2 with Carlin in the 2018 Formula 2 Championship, though instantly made a positive impression in Formula 1 with McLaren when he made the step up with McLaren the following year.
And while Tsunoda lacks the experience in Europe that Norris had once he joined Formula 1, Carlin certainly thinks the talent is there.
“He lacks some experience compared to Lando, but the speed and understanding of how to drive a racing car is there,” Carlin explained.
“He is absolutely ready. He’s going to many new tracks now, but he didn’t seem to have any problem finding speed – like at Sochi, where he was fast. I’m hopeful.
“I would expect some incidents in the first races, but once that’s over I think he can surprise a lot of people.”